Grade Levels of Activities
The offline activities were designed to investigate the three themes of self-portrait, use of space, and
composition as a stage set.
The staff has taught self-portrait painting to students from the age of six to the age of seven-
teen, varying the amount of motivational discussion about characteristics and self-expression
(as needed for each age group). Early elementary students may concentrate on the location of
the facial features on the head and how these features alter with expressions of emotion
(smiling for happy, frowning for anger or worry). Late elementary students could look at how
realistic (or abstract) some portraits are and what details tell them that a painting is realistic
(or abstract). Then they will think about and create realistic (or abstract) details their own
portrait. The discussion is of utmost importance in motivating a student to learn a new
artistic concept and be able to show his/her learning through production of a work based on
that concept. The combination of the viewing of art, discussion, and production produces
sustained learning in all four categories of the study of art. Creative expression with media
alone does not do this.
The idea of perspective and space is one that interests students starting in about the sixth
grade, when students want to represent things in art `as they really are,' three-dimensionally
and at various distances. However, lower grades are able to understand and use overlapping
to show perspective, making faraway objects smaller, and using lighter, duller colors or
values to create distance.
A Web site that discusses perspective is part of a course on Western Technology
Leonardo's Perspective Web pages investigate aerial and linear perspective with shockwave
interactivity and paintings.
The stage set activity was tested successfully on a local seventh grade class. To explain the
concept of stage, a trip to the school stage would be appropriate to discuss the different areas
and how they relate to a flat canvas or paper when creating a representational painting. An
example of an interdisciplinary unit is a class studying the Renaissance in sixth grade. A
group could make a model Elizabethan stage and arrange characters on it in conjunction with
looking at how Renaissance painters used this concept. Students could then create their own
paintings using the stage set composition.